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Durham University News

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Durham University awarded Fairtrade status

(6 March 2007)

Durham University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman takes tea with students Aron Kilkenny-Fletcher and Ceri Hendy to celebrate the university?s new Fairtrade status.

Durham University's efforts to increase equality in international trade through supporting and promoting 'Fairtrade' are rewarded.

As people around the region look at ways to support ethical trading in the current Fairtrade Fortnight (26 February to 11 March), the endeavours of students and staff at Durham University to promote greater equality in international trade are recognised, with the University gaining official Fairtrade status.

Fairtrade status is awarded to universities by the Fairtrade Foundation, a charitable organisation committed to providing disadvantaged producers in the developing world a better deal for their products. It awards the accreditation in recognition of the student union and the university authorities working together, through a central Fairtrade Steering Group, to ensure fair-trade goods, such as clothing, food and drink are stocked in all campus shops, served at all official meetings and their increased use is campaigned for throughout the campus.

"Although the value of international trade has tripled in the last two decades, the benefits are not shared equally as the smaller companies are squeezed out by large multinational corporations," explained Professor Joy Palmer-Cooper, Chair of Durham University's Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group and member of its Fairtrade Steering Group. "University students and staff are becoming increasingly aware of these trade injustices and the impact of their buying decisions which has in turn led to a greater demand for fairly traded goods, a demand the University has gladly met!"

Alex Duncan, Durham Student Union president, added, "Students have been behind the push to make Durham a Fairtrade university from the start. The great thing about this accreditation is that each year we will have new and more stringent targets to meet which will ensure the momentum continues. Durham graduates, such as Richard Adams, who founded Gateshead-based Traidcraft and George Alagiah, patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, are a diverse group with a strong sense of social responsibility and have been involved in ethical projects for many years."

By offering producers in poor countries a fair price, Fairtrade is able to support a sustainable way of living by ensuring the costs of production are covered and offer increased security through long-term contracts. They are also able to provide knowledge and skills to help people develop their businesses and increase their sales.

"It is a great honour for Durham to be awarded this prestigious Fairtrade status and we hope it will inspire our staff, students, suppliers and visitors to think about the implications of their consumer decisions and hopefully pursue a more ethical approach to shopping. I'm also pleased that our accreditation comes in time to boost Durham City's own application for Fairtrade Status," said Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University.

A number of Fairtrade events are taking place this week in Durham including a Fair Trade Market Day on the 9 of March hosted by Durham City Council and coffee growers from Africa and South America are taking part in a roadshow on the importance of Fairtrade at Durham University's College of St Hild and St Bede on Thursday 8 March.

Durham University is celebrating its accreditation with staff, students and members of Durham City on Tuesday 6 March at an event showcasing what Fairtrade offers.

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